And no, I'm not kidding.
The NBA has suspended New York's Carmelo Anthony one game for confrontation with Kevin Garnett.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 9, 2013
I didn't think so.
The NBA is no stranger to getting it wrong. Just ask Gregg Popovich. Or Rajon Rondo. Or now, Anthony himself.
Melo may have made a mistake, but it was met, in turn, by one of the league's many other mistakes. The same league that capped pregame rituals to a mere 90 seconds just because. The same league that fined the San Antonio Spurs for protecting the health of its key players.
And now, the same league who has (via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com) deemed Anthony's behavior unacceptable to the point of suspension:
"There are no circumstances in which it is acceptable for a player to confront an opponent after a game," NBA executive vice president basketball operations Stu Jackson said in a statement. "Carmelo Anthony attempted to engage with Kevin Garnett multiple times after Monday's game and therefore a suspension was warranted."
I'm not an advocate of the way Anthony handled his on-court beef with Garnett after the game, but a suspension? Really?
There weren't any punches thrown, just some derogatory words and if the Association is going to make a habit for penalizing excessive trash talk, where's Garnett's suspension? Where's his fine?
Remember this is the same Garnett who, according to the New York Daily News, crossed the line when it came to Anthony's "estranged" wife. Why is the league allowed to overlook this?
I understand that happened on the court, but isn't the Association's main concern, first and foremost, what happens on the court?
Even if it wasn't extenuating circumstances such as these don't warrant a suspension—especially when Melo wasn't looking to brawl.
I mean, per Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com, not even Rajon Rondo thought either Anthony or Garnett was looking to throw down.
"I didn't want anything to happen to Big Fella. I had my teammate's back, but nobody was looking for a fight or anything." -Rondo on KG/Melo— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBA) January 10, 2013
Vice present Stu Jackson notes that Melo "attempted to engage" Garnett, but he neglects to mention he was trying to "engage" him in conversation. The same conversation the two eventually had:
Anthony said Tuesday that his "motivation" in finding Garnett after the game was to have a "one-on-one conversation" with him after the Boston big man spewed a verbal insult at Anthony.
"It's certain things that you just don't say to men, another man," Anthony said Tuesday. "I felt that he crossed the line. Like I said, we're both at an understanding right now; we handled it the way we handled it. Nobody needs to know what was said behind closed doors. So that situation is handled."
According to a source close to Anthony, he and Garnett had a phone conversation after the confrontation to clear the air.
Again, I am in no way condoning the postgame behavior of Melo. He never should have pursued Garnett. But he also should have never been suspended or penalized in any way, shape or form when Garnett—the instigator—is coming out of this ordeal unscathed.
If the league had fined or suspended Garnett, then maybe we could move on. But he didn't, so we can't.
And as Alan Hahn of MSG Network notes, solely condemning Melo serves as something of an enabler for Garnett's own abhorrent behavior.
I get the reason for suspending Melo, but bigger impact here, IMO, is it only further enables Garnett to continue his contemptible behavior.— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) January 10, 2013
Why is that acceptable?
Anthony may have crossed a line, but Garnett crossed one as well.
Even former NBA great and renowned trashed talker Reggie Miller conceded (via Frank Isola of the New York Daily News) that Boston's big man had gone too far:
Miller spoke to the Daily News after reports surfaced that Celtics forward Kevin Garnett incited Carmelo Anthony on Monday by reportedly making disparaging comments about Anthony's wife, La La Vasquez, during Boston's 102-96 victory.
Anthony would not reveal what Garnett said to him but Anthony was angry enough to wait for Garnett near the Celtics team bus afterwards.
"Boys will be boys," said Miller, who along with Marv Albert will broadcast Thursday's Knicks-Pacers game on TNT. "We don't really know what KG said. We've only heard the reports. But family members, mothers and fathers, kids and especially spouses are off limits. That's taboo."
Is the line Garnett crossed a tangible one?
Of course not, but neither is the league's interpretation of the events that transpired.
Point me to a rule that clearly dictates one player may not pursue a "conversation" with an opposing player near or around that team's bus and I'll shut up.
Then let's move on.
Speaking of moving on, do you know what really grinds my gears?
The NBA's failure to do just that–move on.
Both Garnett and Anthony (via Begley) aren't harping on the situation, after all:
"That's over with, don't even want to go back to that," Anthony said after practice. "Whatever happened between me and Kevin, that's done. That's settled. It's done and over with. We move on, got Indiana (on Thursday). No disrespect, but I don't wanna keep talking about the same thing and beating a dead horse."
But that's just what the league is doing, beating a "dead horse." Their refusal to let minor scuffles that endangered no one die out is reprehensible. Their penchant for hypocrisy is even worse.
Remember, David Stern alluded to the fact (via Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com) that the absence of a team's best players on a national stage is unacceptable:
NBA commissioner David Stern issued a statement before the game started apologizing to fans and saying, "This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming."
So am I.
I'm not saying Anthony should be given preferential treatment because he's a superstar; I'm saying the NBA, as an entity, is flawed. It has become tyrannic in its attempt to control to everything, to make an example of everyone.
Let's be honest, you know the league missed the mark when Celtics coach and perpetual Garnett enthusiast Doc Rivers doesn't agree with the decision.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, “I don’t believe guys should ever be suspended. But it’s not a surprise. But we [coaches] get in trouble for sitting players and then we suspend players, it’s the same thing. If you’re a fan, you’re not happy with that.”
And why should we be? The league continues to bend the rulebook—sometimes an imaginary rulebook—when it sees fit, and it's ridiculous.
Should Carmelo Anthony have been suspended?
This isn't just about Anthony, or Garnett. It's about Popovich, about Rondo.
It's about the cumulative list of ever-growing wrongs that the NBA refuses to right.
"If you just go off the actual facts of what happened, I don't think anything will happen," Anthony said (via Begley) prior to his suspension.
Shame on Melo.
Shame on him for the way he acted, for the way he allowed his emotions to get the best of him. Shame on him for resolving this by virtue of a phone call first.
But mostly, shame on him for believing that the NBA was going to do something right.